From Chapter 20: "But as she put on her hat she burst out laughing. Love was a unlike the article served up in books: the joy, though genuine, was different; the mystery an unexpected mystery."Ahh. This rings so true to me.
I got off on the right foot with Helen and her letters to her sister. First she is in love, then whoops! No, she's not. That whole story might have annoyed me if it weren't for the reason: Paul's reaction to her the next morning. Scared! Men who are scared of what their family will think, I have known a few. It is very tiring. To strong-willed women at any time of history or even today, men who fear their fathers or are too stupid to think for themselves (as Charles often appears) are hopeless. And if you think you can change a male who is that way, you are wrong! How sharp of Helen to run the other way.
Although I don't have a sister and I will never really know sisterly love, I felt the relationship between the Schlegel women to be true through to the end. Mrs. Bast seemed like a plot device as did their Aunt Juley. But I suppose we have all known some people in superficial ways, and I wouldn't say my meddling neighbor is a plot device in my life, but I could.
I wish someone would defend Mr. Bast. I think he was sort of crazy. There's probably a historical reason for his actions being London and industrial and his desire to improve himself. The sister's claimed they were thinking of his well-being, but it certainly seemed to me that they were making him a bit of a pet. It seemed Tibby was their pet too, but less so, and he was detached, probably because he was raised without a mother's love.
Much of the prose in the book went to describing the beauty and ugliness of England which movies can do with one good brush stroke, so I lucked out when I discovered it was on television one weekend. I've seen it before in the theater years ago. It came on in the afternoon with no commercials, no breaks for 2 1/2 hours. Vanessa Redgrave's performance was way over-the-top. (She played the first Mrs. Wilcox.) However Anthony Hopkins's Mr. Wilcox was perfection.
Midway through the book I started to think of each character was an element of a whole being. Helen, the idealistic youth; Leonard Bast, the insecure dreamer; Dolly, the mouth without the brain; Margaret, the reasonable matron; and so on. I found this diminished my desire for the story, so I chucked that idea after a couple of chapters. It was as if I was watching myself read a book for the purpose of talking about what I was reading. Do you know what I mean? And is there any way to get around this when you know you have to say something and it better be in complete sentences?
At any rate, I loved the descriptions of the home and grounds at Howards End. I feel that some physical places can hold spirits of happiness.